Verb aspects are a thing that annoys many learners of Russian, Polish etc. Most learning resources just told me the basics of what they mean, but not how they function in practice.

This is a series where I, as an intermediate Polish learner, attempt to explain some grammatical features common to most Slavic languages in a simple, jargon-free and applicable way. I will be using Polish as my examples but I hope my notes will help learners of other languages too.

The perfective and imperfective verb-pairs took me a long time to figure out, but here’s what they are, in a nutshell:

The perfective aspect of verbs mean one thing: the thing is DONE. FINISHED. ONE ACTION.

The imperfective aspect of verbs can have two meanings:
1. the PROCESS of the action. Starting to do it, but not finishing it yet.
2. doing a thing REPEATEDLY.

Taking Polish as an example: zrobić – to have done; robić – to be in the process of doing OR to do repeatedly, regularly.

Now when to use which is something you need to get a feel for, but I’ll list some general principles I discovered. (I’ll be leaving the formation of the verb forms for another post.)

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It’s been a while since I wrote something about my own language learning hobby, rather than my more educationally minded column. And fairly recently (around a week ago), I made a decision that might sound like a big deal or a dumb idea to many, but a small change in direction to me.

I started ‘dabbling’ in Kazakh.

That doesn’t mean much to my daily life, to be honest. Since I’ve pretty much been feeling on holiday for a year, I’ve long had a ‘main’ language I’m working on, then some others I ‘toy’ with. Before this, I was maintaining a 50-day streak in Hebrew on Duolingo. I also listened to 5 days of Glossika GSR in Lithuanian, just because I’d bought the package during a sale. In short? My other toys are going bye-bye for now.

Why Kazakh?

Before I talk about ‘dabbling’, let me reveal my reasons for trying out this language, and you’ll easily see the fun of dabbling in any language. Beware: all my reasons for learning any language are incredibly specific to myself.

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What’s a word?

Funny question, isn’t it. A word is the thing in a text that stands between two spaces.

But as you know,in Chinese languages you don’t write spaces. And if you caught up with my introduction, the structure of a text and how we look at it differ quite a bit from the alphabetical languages we’re all so used to.

Now let’s dig deeper into the world of “words” – or zi6 – shall we?

We in bilingual schools end up with a lot of inconsistencies in what a ‘word’ designates in Chinese writing and speech – though no real confusion – especially when writing essays. I don’t know about foreign schools, but our exams always had clear word limits: “around 800 words” for an essay, or maybe 200 for a shorter question.

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Read the previous parts: Day 0 Day 1 Day 2 Day 3

Thanks to my slow (albeit steady) publishing schedule interspersed with other topics, even the next polyglot event of the year has ended. But fear not! With my thick online face, I shall continue to document my favourite excursion of the year until I’m done! Unbelievable as it was, we’d come to the last day of the main event, and I’d come to my last chance of recovering my voice. Yes, it was still lost…I did get one good sentence out, but afterwards it got worse again. So bad that I skipped breakfast to grab a couple of lozenges at the one and only Hauptbahnhof. Hoping for the best. But let’s get back into the last day of fun!

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